Tag Archives: Featured

Remembering lives lost, hope

Backlit colorful t-shirts hang in a shop window

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Action Month in October included numerous impactful events, including the Clothesline Project, a domestic violence vigil, and a candlelight walk.

Group of WW University students stands with a clothesline t-shirt display

Thanks to an AAUW mini grant, the Clothesline Project spread awareness and solidarity from Walla Walla to Dayton. Student and community volunteers contributed beautiful messages and stories that graced clotheslines in and outside the YWCA, at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, and in the front windows at Locally Nourished in Dayton.

While all of the volunteers worked on the clotheslines and chalk art, some also created a display about the more than 70 lives lost to domestic violence in 2022 and helped put the finishing touches on the Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, altar.

Chalk art messages against domestic violence on sidewalks by the YWCA
Group of YWCA supporters circles the block at dusk, holding candles

Adding beauty and respectfulness to the altar and other displays were generous flower donations pulled together by Wild Willow and Cindy at Safeway Floral.

In a brief bilingual vigil presentation, Community Outreach Coordinator Celia Guardado explained the place of the altar in Latina culture and at the YWCA – showing love and honoring our ancestors, while also shining a light on lives lost to violence.

The program was followed by a candlelight procession through the neighborhood led by Celia and Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, a powerful reminder of our shared commitment to ending domestic violence and creating a safer, more compassionate community.

Smiling young woman displays a Day of the Dead altar in the back of an SUV

When Walla Walla Valley Honda invited us to their Trunk-or-Treat event for children, Kate and Megan from Mariposa took a bit of the altar on the road for some wider community exposure, then returned it to the YWCA for staff, clients, and visitors to appreciate during the Día de los Muertos celebration, Nov. 1 and 2.

Together, we are making a difference, fostering awareness, and advocating for a world free from domestic violence.

Finding gratitude in the journey

I AM SO GRATEFUL to each one of you for your support of the YWCA. Through the YWCA, you help women and children change the way they see and experience life. They are leaving horrible situations and are learning that they matter in this world. They’re leaving violence, and transitioning to lives where they make their own decisions.

None of this is easy, but when you can believe in yourself and know that others believe in you and are cheering you on, you find that you can do a whole lot more than you thought you could.

Gratitude is a decision to stay committed to the good in life, even when things may not be going well in your own life, and making it through. Gratitude isn’t a magic wand. Like the decision to leave a lifetime of violence, it takes time. But gratitude does rearrange the way we see the world. When we focus on our strengths and the many gifts we are blessed with, gratitude lessens our fears, strengthens our hearts, and builds resilience.

I like to think of our staff as gratitude midwives. They help people find their strengths – be that the families in YWCA shelters or the 32 little ones in childcare each day, the LiNC class members, or all the Walla Walla fifth graders who just started Mariposa groups.

And they help people believe in those strengths, build on them, and begin to see the world in a different way. That’s what the amazing people I work with do every single day.

Sometimes, that looks pretty hard.

But just when it feels like it will never work, it does.

Someone smiles. Or stops taking someone’s toy. Or decides to go back to school because someone showed her how. Or sits next to that girl she thinks she doesn’t like.

You are making all this possible.

You are part of this great birthing process of gratitude, not just because you support our mission but because you believe it matters. Thank you.

RoseMary’s Place childcare in Dayton has opened waitlist

RoseMary’s Place is coming to Dayton with a projected opening date of 4-1-2024. Click here for some of the questions we anticipate.

We understand how important childcare is to families, and we are doing everything we can to ensure the process is fair.

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, we opened the waiting list. The list requires entering the name and birthdate of each child and the name and contact information for up to two guardians.

The first 8 infants, 13 toddlers, and 19 preschoolers on the waitlist will have the first opportunity to enroll when that process begins. Our staff will use the information provided on the waiting list form to contact children’s guardians.

Being on the waitlist does not commit a family to register, but if a space is offered and isn’t acknowledged within 3 days, the opportunity to complete and submit registration will be offered to the next child on the list.

We can’t wait to open our doors and meet you and your little ones!

You make the holidays feel more like home

Every year, generous volunteers Adopt a YWCA Family to make sure everyone in the shelters has a beautiful season of peace and joy.

Also included are families involved in support group and LiNC life skills classes.

“Clients with the courage to walk away from domestic violence often have little time to think about anything other than safety,” said Tammy Stream, Director of Client Services. “They do their best to make the holidays special for their children, but funds are usually sparse.”

When you give to a child through the Adopt-a-Family program, you allow moms to focus less on being homeless and more on healing. They experience hope as they watch their children’s faces light up while they rip open the packages on their wish lists.

Your compassion makes a safe, temporary shelter feel more like home.

Holiday deadlines*

  1. By Friday, Nov. 17: Request a family.
  2. Monday, Nov. 20: Receive their wish lists.
  3. Shop for list items or gift cards (usually about $75/person).
  4. Tuesday, Dec. 12: Drop off the unwrapped gifts at the YWCA, 213 S. First Ave.

    *We will continue taking applicants until all families are spoken for. Later requests will have custom deadline schedules.

After you sign up, YWCA staff members match a family to your budget and family size preference and provide sizes, favorite color, and a couple of wish list items for each family member

If you have any questions about the program, please call the office, 509-525-2570.

The Clothesline Project: Raising awareness, honoring survivors

To mark October, Domestic Violence Action Month, YWCA Walla Walla will host The Clothesline Project. This nationwide movement amplifies the voices of survivors and victims of intimate partner violence, abuse, and sexual assault, while also raising awareness and understanding.

Logo: American Association for University Women (AAUW) Walla Walla. The W is in a red circle.
Thanks to a mini grant from AAUW Walla Walla, there is no charge to participate.

Picture this: A clothesline hung with T-shirts, each one using words and pictures to tell a story about the impact of violence. A pink shirt might carry a stark message to the perpetrator of a sexual assault about how the assault affected the survivor’s life. An LGBTQ abuse survivor might share on a purple shirt the things that the attack didn’t take away. You can tell at a glance the variety of experiences represented, because each shirt is color coded (see color key below).

Originally conceived as part of the healing process for survivors (and we intend for the project to continue serving that purpose), our local project is also open to the rest of the community. Domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault: These issues hurt all of us, and speaking out is one more way we can stand up against them.

*WHITE: Someone who died because of violence (Washington State victim stories available for tributes upon request)
*YELLOW, BROWN, or GRAY: Survivor of domestic violence, which can include emotional, spiritual, and
 verbal, as well as physical, abuse
*RED, PINK, or ORANGE: Survivor of rape or sexual assault
*BLUE or GREEN: Survivor of incest or childhood sexual abuse 
*PURPLE: Someone attacked because of their sexual orientation
*BLACK: Someone disabled as the result of an attack or assaulted because of a disability

“Sexual and gender-based violence can have a profound impact,” said YWCA Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, “and in our work we see regular evidence. The Clothesline Project bears witness to violence to spread healing and promote change.”

While recognizing that the majority of sexual assaults and domestic violence incidents target women, YWCA Walla Walla extends an inclusive invitation to survivors, their supporters, and community members to join the cause.

 “There is more than one path to healing,” Anne-Marie said, “and this project offers a chance for anyone to share a message meaningful to them.”

Together, let’s hang out stories of strength,
resilience, and solidarity for all to witness.

The Clothesline Project

We are also working with Locally Nourished in Dayton where they have a work area set up.

You can pick up materials at the YWCA office, Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm. You are welcome to take the materials with you, or come on in to our reception room where we have dedicated space during office hours where you can create your message and embellish a shirt on-site.

Completed shirts will be displayed at the YWCA and at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, and at Locally Nourished in Dayton, during the YWCA Week Without Violence, the third week of October.

Together, let’s hang out stories of strength, resilience, and solidarity for all to witness.

All shirts must be returned  by October 13 to be part of a display. For further details and inquiries, please call the YWCA office, 509-525-2570.

Just Believe: Light up the night with hope and love

Just Believe event logo
Thursday | 21 September 23 | YWCA Walla Walla: A Party With a Purpose | The Motor Co | 64 East Rose Street | 5:30–9pm
Live & Silent Auctions | Dinner by A Chef’s Creation | Wine & Dine Wall

STEP INTO A WORLD of positivity, compassion, and transformation at the YWCA Just Believe party!

We have been “believing” since 2001, gathering for unforgettable evenings filled with laughter, love, and unwavering support.

Originally an art auction with dozens of original works by local artists, the event has evolved into a party focused more on the YWCA mission. You said you didn’t need more stuff and just wanted to get together with friends to have fun and support a great cause.

This year, join us for “Just Believe” at The Motor Co. Located in the old Teague Motor Company building on the corner of Rose and Colville, the rooms have undergone an incredible transformation, and we are excited to be among the first to throw a party in this fun, beautiful space.

In addition to street parking, there’s a parking lot directly across Rose you can use.

Tickets are $75 and include dinner by Marty Bray of A Chef’s Creation and two drink tickets.
The auction format continues, with packages focused on experiences that bring folks together. Bid on unique live and silent auction items, or purchase a bottle of wine and a dinner certificate donated by our extraordinary local wineries and restaurants.

Every time you bid on a package, or make a purchase from the Wine & Dine Wall, you support the women and children who walk through the doors of the YWCA in search of a violence-free life.
We are grateful to the sponsors who have helped make this event possible.
Go online to see even more of the amazing local wineries, restaurants, businesses, and individuals whose donations will help ensure no one has to face domestic violence, abuse, or assault alone.

Like you, they believe in safety and shelter, healing and hope for survivors of assault or domestic violence.

We can’t wait to see you Thursday evening, Sept. 21, 5:30 – 9! Gather friends for a table of 8, and come meet some new ones!

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors

If you can’t attend, we hope you’ll join us in supporting
YWCA women and families with a donation.

Eliminating racism, empowering women,
and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

Mariposa prevention program back in full bloom

Mariposa girls wrote affirming valentines to each other and themselves.

Photo of Kate Stoops, Mariposa Coordinator

With Kate Stoops, Mariposa Coordinator

YWCA PREVENTION work in the elementary schools of Walla Walla and College Place has bloomed as the easing of Covid restrictions makes it possible for us to connect in person again.

After two years of lockdown, the specter of middle school has been extra daunting.

One student described it as — this is a direct quote! — the “smelly dark hallways of mean big kids.”

In Mariposa, we broach the topic and start to dispel the myths about middle school, while also equipping the young women with tools for knowing their value and boundaries to create a safer and stronger community.

“Our Mariposa girls uplift and support each other, growing their confidence, respect, and self-love as they head into middle school.”



Goal-setting, communication, boundaries, self-love, and consent are just a few of the topics that our groups of fifth grade girls dive into.

We are proud of our broad pu­berty curriculum that helps orient our girls to upcoming changes, and empower them to feel comfortable and proud of their bodies.


In fifth grade, Valentine’s Day is a BIG deal. The making of your mail­box for potential valentines, and the solidifying of your crushes can make or break your self-image.

Mariposa groups work on chal­lenging the narrative for our girls.

In February, our groups wrote things that they appreciate about themselves in Valentines.

This activity embodies what Mar­iposa is for. As they were writing, the girls would say things to each other like, “oh wow that is true, you are an awesome basketball player,” or “I really like the way you help me with English sometimes; your English is really good.” or “You are super tall. That is so cool.”

Our Mariposa girls uplift and support each other, growing their confidence, respect, and self-love as they head into middle school.

Mariposa continues to bloom as we head into springtime, listening and sharing with each other while embodying the YWCA mission to empower women and eliminate racism.

We are excited about continuing to encourage and empower these young leaders.


EVERY YEAR, said Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, “we find the most remarkable young people to run the Mariposa program!”

The program, led this year by three Whitman College stu­dents, Anne-Marie said, “is a very part-time job we hope will have a full-time impact on the valley’s fifth-graders.”

Photo of Kiley, Mariposa leader

Kiley Kom­nick (left) meets with 20 girls in afterschool programs at Green Park and Sharpstein Elementary.

Photo of Rebecca, Mariposa leader

Rebecca Patterson (right) is at Edison Elementary serving 15 girls in the afterschool program.

Kate Stoops (top) leads five girls in a lunchtime program at Davis Elementary in College Place.

National YWCA president shares message of empowerment for girls and women

YWCA USA board president Tina Herrera at the 2023 YWCA Luncheon podium giving the keynote address

After two years of virtual luncheons – and last year at half capacity – YWCA Walla Walla joyfully welcomed more than 400 supporters to the Marcus Whitman Hotel Ballroom.

This year’s luncheon took us back to the fundamentals with a focus on being present: “Just be.”

Presence – to live in the present moment and give it our full attention – is challenging in a world where everything around us is designed for distraction.

But it’s what our world needs, people who will show up and hold space for each other.

It’s what you did during our years of uncertainty, a time when folks could have slipped through the cracks. You were present, consistently looking out for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Award presentation

The 2023 YWCA Leader of Distinction was a longtime educator who has always been present for others, whether leading a classroom or chatting with a friend. YWCA board president 2016-2017 and close friend Rhonda Olson presented the 2023 award to Mary Lynne Schroeder. (See article.)

Taking a “Mission Moment,” Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin stressed how hard it can be to ask for help and expressed admiration for the brave souls who reached out to the YWCA last year. And when they showed up, there are good people, like our luncheon guests, who make sure someone is there for them, someone who will listen.

“With a mission that insists on peace, justice, freedom and dignity,” she said,  we can’t NOT convey to people: You are welcome here, you are safe here, you can be YOU here.”

LiNC Director Andraya Anderson and Advocate Alejandra Lopez shared bright moments from their YWCA work in a 5-minute video followed by a heartfelt giving appeal from YWCA friend and investment advisor Jim McCarthy.

The keynote

Our 2023 keynote speaker and YWCA USA board president, Tina Herrera, acknowledged the wisdom of taking a moment in our chaotic lives to just be, to connect with our life purpose and “unique journey on earth.”

She recommended we all listen more to young women, a population she characterized as true to what they believe, who question “our generation’s way of life and our endless pursuit of the next accomplishment.”

She urged a third wave of the feminist movement, one that values “affordable child care, paid family and medical leave…paid safe leave, expanded child tax credits, and trauma-based support for survivors of gender-based violence.”  Removing obstacles like a lack of childcare make it possible for all women and girls to thrive.

Finally, she called for education to ensure the voices of women and women of color “are represented at the highest levels of government and society.”  More women in positions of power and as decision makers at community, national and institutional levels will lead to “more inclusive policies, laws, and practices that protect and contribute to gender equality at all levels.”

Throughout her presentation she shared photos and experiences from her extraordinary career (which included shuttling her experiments to the Russian Space Station on Atlantis as a NASA engineer) and from her longtime involvement with the YWCA. This afforded opportunities like visiting the New York Stock Exchange for the 2018 launch of the YWCA exchange-traded fund “WOMN” and attending a 2022 groundbreaking to rebuild the YWCA New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

In Tina’s long and varied journey with the YWCA, it’s clear that the challenges facing women and girls across generations are central to her life purpose and that she sees YWCA as the organization with the heart and resilience to address these challenges.

Special thanks: Early in the program, Molly Gordon thanked our community partners: one who wants to remain AnonymousBanner Bank, Coffey Communications, Providence St. Mary Medical Center, and the YWCA Leadership Circle. She expressed appreciation for other luncheon sponsors, Whitman College, CLA, McDonald Zaring Insurance, Northwest Collision, Tallman’s Pharmacy, and the Eastgate Lions Club.

She also acknowledged our sponsors who provided goods or services: Lane Printing & Design; Walla Walla Union-Bulletin; Marcus Whitman Hotel; and David Lopez, Executive Director of the Center for Humanitarian Engagement at Walla Walla University who stepped in when our longtime volunteer photographer Keith Crain couldn’t make it.

We are grateful to them all.

Mary Lynne Schroeder recognized for life of service

Mary Lynne, left, smiling at her table across from a bouquet of persimmon-colored roses

Mary Lynne and Rhonda strike a Rosie the Riveter pose in front of a yellow sign with "We Can Do It!" above their heads.

At the 2023 YWCA Leadership Luncheon, Rhonda Olson, 2016-2017 board president (pictured, right), presented the Leader of Distinction Award. Following is the text of that presentation:

Every year at this luncheon, we honor someone who has exemplified the YWCA mission in their lives, with a focus on reaching out to, lifting up, and celebrating the lives and hopes of women, of children, and of diverse peoples. 

Growing up a Midwest farm girl who changed universities and majors when she was told that women could not be band directors, our 2023 Leader of Distinction became a business major instead and worked as a buyer for a major retailer.  Passing by a school one day, she realized that education was her passion, so she went back to school and became a teacher.  For her, education was the way to build capacity and leadership, starting with young ones in elementary school.

She came to Walla Walla in 1969 and began a career in the public schools.  She taught at Edison and Prospect Point, then moved on to the high school as a counselor and later, the Dean of Students with some other interesting assignments along the way including cheerleading coach, leader of the Wa Hi Exchange program in Yokohama Japan, and advisor to the Associated Student Body.  Her life outside school was also incredibly full.  Though she did not become a band director, it did not stop her from singing in choirs, ringing handbells, or playing the flute.  Her leadership was sought and valued in every church she participated in, whether serving soup to community members looking for a warm meal or leading the church council.  People knew her counsel was wise and that she was smart and thoughtful, a person of quiet strength, no drama, possessed of a delightful and engaging sense of humor.  Said her daughters, “Mom has such a sense of joy being part of a team.  She taught us how to value community service and engagement.  Her wish for us, as was her mom’s for her, is a life of hopeful impact, doing things to help others and making a difference.

Her teacher’s schedule didn’t allow her to participate in a lot of community board work until her retirement, and when we heard she was retiring, the YWCA was ready.  We reached out to her about board service, and this smart woman said “no,” not for a year.  So we marked the calendar and asked her again a year later.  She said yes, and instantly became an engaged board member, later serving as president.  During her tenure she saw the YWCA expand services to Dayton and welcome a new generation of leaders, both staff and board.  She also shared her talents with Children’s Home Society, serving on both the local and the statewide boards of that organization.

I want to close on a personal note.  Our 2023 leader of distinction has that rare ability that is so in line with our luncheon’s theme today.  She has the gift of being present to each person she is with, no matter who they are.  And as her friend, I see it every time I am with her.  She is a “best friend” to many of us in this room, her ability to make each of us feel uniquely valued is a true gift.  Our community is blessed by her deep commitment to hopeful impact and to servant leadership.

Mary Lynne and Rhonda share a hug on the podium.

Join me in celebrating our dear friend, Mary Lynne Schroeder, YWCA Leader of Distinction for 2023.

Child Abuse Prevention: YWCA supporters shine a light on child abuse

Photo: Sign with Child Abuse Prevention Month with blue pinwheels

Driving around town, chances are you will encounter a sign put in place by the YWCA or one of our supporters.

This spring, we’ve added a new April observance to our traditional Sexual Assault Awareness efforts: Child Abuse Prevention Month.

If you’ve seen an orange sign surrounded by little blue pinwheels spinning in the wind, that’s us!

Concern that every child lives a life free from violence and abuse is not new to us, and the YWCA is a safe, supportive location where place where abused children can be interviewed by trained, trauma-informed outside experts.

YWCA thanks our partners participating in the pinwheel project, including:

Allstate (Jessica Avery)
Children’s Home Society
College Police Department/City Hall
Columbia County Health System in Dayton
Dayton Memorial Library

Department of Children, Youth, and Families
Providence Health System (Second Avenue and St. Mary Medical Center campuses)
Walla Walla Clinic Pediatrics
Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office
Walla Walla Pediatric Dentistry
Walla Walla Police Department

Blue Sabbath

We also invited communities of faith to join us in Blue Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday, April 29 and 30. YWCA is grateful to Pioneer United Methodist Church, First Congregational Church of Walla Walla, and Congregation Beth Israel for helping gather pinwheels and signs from other locations and posting them by their houses of worship.

Without volunteers like Traci and Marian helping assemble pinwheels and Richard, Paul and Mary, Punkey, Shelly, and Sonja gathering up the materials at the end of the month, projects like this might not happen.  Thank you!